A previously lost Beatrix Potter story is to be published - over 100 years after it was written!
The British author famously wrote stories such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and other classic children's books in the early 1900s.
The hidden story, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, was rediscovered after a publisher at Penguin Random House found a mention of the tale in an old biography of Beatrix Potter dating back from the 1970s.
The biography talked about a letter written by the author in 1914, which mentioned an unedited tale about ‘a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life’.
The only drawing Beatrix Potter ever completed for her story, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots
Keen to discover more about the surprising, secret story, the publisher took a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London - where many of Beatrix Potter’s old items are kept - and discovered three manuscripts, all handwritten in children’s school notebooks.
There was also a single colour sketch of Kitty-in-Boots, a rough pencil sketch of the book's villain Mr. Tod, and a dummy book with some of the typeset manuscript laid out.
Other letters described how Potter had meant to finish the story, but that 'interruptions' (everything from the First World War, sheep farming and catching colds!) had got in the way, and so she never got round to completing it before her death in 1943.
One of Quentin Blake's drawings for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots
The tale tells the story of a seemingly well-behaved black cat, Kitty-in-Boots. Named "Kitty" by her adoring owner, but known to her street-cat friends as "Q" and "Squintums", the old lady has no idea that her precious Kitty is actually quite the cat about town. She wears a "gentleman's Norfolk jacket, and little fur-lined boots" and leads a secret second life, behind her owner's back.
It even includes an appearance from Peter Rabbit himself - although a little older, wiser, and chubbier than before!
Unfortunately Potter only ever drew one sketch of Kitty-in-Boots, so to help bring the tale back to life, children's book illustrator, Quentin Blake, is set to illustrate the rediscovered book. You might recognise his work from your favourite Roald Dahl books, check out some of his early sketches for the book, above and below!
Kitty's owner has no idea of her precious cat's often rebellious nature!
Jo Hanks, who discovered the lost story, said, "The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter. It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales (including Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit). And, most excitingly, our treasured, mischievous Peter Rabbit makes an appearance – albeit older, slower and portlier!"
The previously unseen tale will go on sale 1 September 2016, published by Frederick Warne & Co. - Potter's original publisher - over a century after the story was written. Exciting!